Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Intimidating TBR pile tag

I think I am addicted to buying books. I kid you not, I do an Amazon order a month and buy odd ones basically weekly from charity shops and the like. But I already have SO many (68 to be exact) that I already own and haven't read. Yet. I will one day.

So to examine my shelves and to pay more attention to my ever-growing TBR list, I thought I would do the Intimidating TBR tag. I noticed that Sarah from Sarah's Chapter had done it and I am now jumping on the bandwagon even though I am about 6 weeks late.

1. What book have you been unable to finish?
Vanity Fair by William Thackeray. I started reading this a couple of years ago, while I was writing my dissertation but because I got busy, I put it down for ages, and I then forgot what happened. I do really want to reread the whole thing and will get around to it eventually. Probably later this year. 

What book have you yet to read because...

2. ...you just haven't had the time?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - it's awfully long isn't it. Another book that I want to read later this year.

3. ...it's a sequel?

The Red Queen and the other books in the Cousin's War series by Philippa Gregory. I have read The White Queen and I wasn't overly enthralled by it. So I have left the rest of them for now although I do own them all. Gregory has a very old fashioned way of writing and tends to repeat things.

4. ...it's brand new?
I don't often buy brand new books. And if I do I get so overexcited by them that I have to read them straight away. But my most recent book purchase (although it's obviously not a new book) is a book of Sherlock Holmes stories. They only arrived the other day so I haven't got around to reading them yet.

5. ...you read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?

I am a little bit on the fence about Cecilia Ahern. I love Where Rainbows End but really hated How to Fall in Love which I read most recently. So although I own PS I Love You and If You Could See Me Now, I can't be bothered to read them because I don't like her style very much and am a little unsure whether I will enjoy the plots.

6. ...you're just not in the mood for it?
I have had Dracula by Bram Stoker for a while but I just can't seem to bring myself to read it. I know it will probably be brilliant and I will love it. But it's SO gothic. And I might even find it scary. (I'm a wuss!)

7. ...it's humungous?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Have you seen the size of it? It's HUGE. After I watched the BBC series in January (starring the divine James Norton as Andrei) I was like yeah I can do this. So I ordered it. And now I am like, no. So many characters, so much waffle on Russian politics, so many long Russian names. It's going to take me months.

8. ...because it's a cover buy that had really poor reviews?

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I very rarely make cover buys. But this one had an interesting blurb and I liked his others (Cloud Atlas is one of my favourite books). Since then though, I have read a lot of very mixed reviews. I know I should give it a go to see for myself but somehow it's slipped further and further down the list.

9. What is the most intimidating book on your TBR pile?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. That book is LONG and it has really tiny writing. Again, it's another one I want to read this year. I seem to be saving all the long books for the second half of the year. Whereas I have read 30 already I will probably only read 6 in the second half. If I do actually read this and all the others mentioned above, like I want to. I will keep you posted.

10. Who do you tag?
Everyone in the lovely GG Book Club, I call to you - give it a go and let me know what delightful books you have on your TBR list.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The World of Books

So it turns out that even if you attempt to take the writer out of the gal, you can't necessarily manage it.

My blogging break is going well. I have relaxed about it almost completely and I am really enjoying posting only as and when I feel like it. It gives me the chance to write posts that I really care about, that others can relate to and it gives me more free time. Win win win.

And what am I doing with all this free time? Writing of course.

For many years now, it has been my ambition to have a career as an author. It has always been at the back of my mind that that is what I would REALLY like to do. Even when I was studying to be a teacher, I only chose that career because I wanted the holidays to write. (I soon found out of course, that teaching is a lifestyle not a job and there was no way I was going to survive the classroom without having a breakdown so I ended up not entering the field).

Since graduating from uni almost two years ago, I have been working part time as a piano teacher and a shop assistant.

People find this strange, considering I am so well educated. But for me it is perfect. Retail is a fairly social job that puts me in contact with tonnes of very different people (some of which will definitely end up as characters!); I don't have to think about it once I've stepped out the door and it gives me lots of free time. That's what you need most as a writer! Time!

There are plenty of people, my parents included, who feel like I should go out and get a 'proper job'. That I should be realistic about the likelihood of me actually succeeding in becoming an author and put it on the back burner for a while.

But why should I?

I know this is what I want to do. I know I have a moderate degree of talent and some good ideas that people could love. I know what people read, what's popular at the moment and what sells. I know I can do this.

I also know how ridiculously hard it will be. But to be honest, it is the same as any other career and succeeding in any career these days is hard. You have to work hard, very hard, and fight for everything. You have to be determined that you won't stop until you reach the top. You have to have a lot of self-believe that you will make it and you can't ever give up.

At the moment I have the time, energy and freedom (due to my lack of responsibilities) to actually give this a proper go. So I say again, why shouldn't I? This is my chance and I am going to give it all I've got. Starting right this minute. I will keep you posted.

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Blogging Breaks

If you are an avid reader of mine (or if you are just a random passer by who has a surprisingly acute attention for detail) you may have noticed that the frequency of my blogposts has suddenly (and drastically) dropped.

For about the past year now I have been blogging at least twice a week. I have started a number of features and I have watched my followers grow. A little. All very positive. Until about a month ago when I had a bit of a meltdown.

I realised that I HATED blogging.

It was a chore. I hated doing it, I hated the way it looked, I hated what I was writing and how I was writing it. I hated that my stats were still miniscule, I hated that I was addicted to looking at stats, I hated that I was stressing about them. I hated other bloggers for having better blogs than mine. And, most of all, I hated that I was hating my blog.

That's a whole lot of hate.

Following my meltdown (there was a lot of snot involved), my Dad said simply 'So quit.'

And my response was 'I don't want to.'

This is true. I didn't want to. The blogging world has been my home for the past (almost) four years and I don't actually hate blogging. I love that my writing is out there and being read by at least a few people, even if it isn't by as many people as I would like.

But I couldn't go on feeling like this. Therefore I am in the process of making some changes:

Firstly, I have given my blog a bit of a prune. I have deleted all the posts that I didn't like which included all the features that I had introduced in the past year. These were part of the problem and updating those features on the specific day were what made me start feeling like it was a chore. I have removed them and I am pleased to say that I am once more proud of all the articles I have on here.

Secondly, I have stopped reading blogs. I love reading other blogs so this is a bit of a shame but at the moment I am not feeling very good about myself. It will only make me jealous that so-and-so has much better photography than me, or so-and-so's layout is stunning. And I can't cope with that right now. I am thinking of all my blogger buddies though and hope their blog is still looking fabulous.

Thirdly, my frequency. This is the main one. I have really stripped back and, for a while at least, I am only going to blog if and when I reallyyyyy feel like it. I am not paid to blog, I have no responsibility to blog every week if I don't want to. So I am just going to take it easy and give myself a bit of a break. Blogging guilt is a thing that happens to most people whether they use blogging as a career or a hobby. And it is something which I have to fix.

Considering how much time I have spent on my blog, I want to enjoy it and be proud of it. And, with these changes, I am slowly heading back towards that point.

When I was considering giving up last month, I made myself remember the reasons I started blogging in the first place. None of those were because I wanted to reach 1000 followers or get invited to London Fashion Week or get emailed a book to review every other week. It was because I wanted to display my writing and creativity to the world. I wanted to touch people and talk about stuff I was interested in. And I wanted to have an easily accessible portfolio of writing I was proud of.

It is extremely unlikely that I am going to make a career out of blogging and maybe 6 months ago that would have upset me. But it shouldn't. It means that I can post what I want, when I want. It gives me more freedom! Which is just as well...there is so much more I want to say. So there's no way I am done with the blogging world yet.

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